The Family of Max Strauß

Max Strauß was born on 20.08.1877 in Amberg. His parents were Hermann Strauß and Peppi Neuburger. In 1910 he moved from Kitzingen to Gunzenhausen, and on 08.05.1910 he married Frieda Dottenheimer, widowed Weißmann, born on 10.07.1886 in Gunzenhausen. She was the daughter of Heinrich Dottenheimer, a wine wholesale merchant, of Burgstallstraße 1.

At the beginning the couple lived there too and son-in-law Max worked in the wine business.

The house in Seckendorffstraße 3 as it is today

Frieda’s first marriage, from 1904 to 1907, had been to Siegfried Weißmann of Bamberg, who died in August 1907. They had a son, Martin, born on 04.07.1905.

With her second husband, Max Strauß, Frieda had a daughter Ida, born on 21.02.1911. In 1920 Martin Weißmann changed his name to Martin Strauß.

During this time Max Strauß purchased a house at Seckendorffstraße 3. Up until 1920 the Jewish doctor’s practice was also located there, as well as other tenants. The textile wholesale business Wertheimer was then based there. This large house was acquired by the State in 1926 and one year later the gendarmerie moved their police station there from Osianderstraße 11/13. It’s not known whether the Strauß family ever lived in the house.

However in 1927 the family moved into their newly built house at Bismarckstraße 27, where Max Strauß ran his own wine wholesale business.

After various discriminatory experiences with Nazis in Gunzenhausen, they sold their new house on 18.04.1934 to Hans Schmidt, chief engineer by profession, and in the same year the family left Germany and emigrated to America.

Source: Gunzenhausen town archive.

The house in Bismarckstraße 7 as it is today
A neighbour, Mrs Krauß, daughter of the town treasurer at that time, still remembers the Strauß family, particularly the beautiful daughter Ida. As a little girl she had admired this young lady, but as of 1933 she could only visit her after dusk, going to the backdoor of the house. She can still remember the day in 1934 when the Strauß family came to say goodbye. Sadly she has heard nothing of her since.

Through letters from Frieda’s brother Sigmund Dottenheimer we know that Max and Frieda Strauß lived in the USA with their two children. He mentioned an address in Sacramento California. Frieda died there during the war, probably in spring 1940. Her son from her first marriage, Martin, went to a lot of trouble to bring the Dottenheimer family to the USA. It is probable that it was he who gave the necessary guarantees for Fred Dottenheimer which allowed him to enter the USA in 1937.

The Bismarckstraße house is now owned by the Koch family and by their daughter, who runs the Isaacs construction company there together with her husband.

The Family of Simon Strauss

Sofie and Simon Strauß, provided by James Strauss

Simon Strauss was born in Damm (today part of Aschaffenburg) on 11.06.1868, son of David Strauss, butcher, and his wife Esther.  From Aschaffenberg where Simon Strauss was born and lived before he emigrated to Gunzenhausen in the 1890’s.

He registered a commercial enterprise in Gunzenhausen in 1896, so he must have moved here around that time. He registered an inn and butcher's shop in the trading register in 1905.

He only acquired citizenship on 23 March 1906 and a month later he married Sofie Weil, born on 27.04.1878 in Oehringen.

 

 

 

Julius and Else Strauß, provided by James Strauss

The couple had two children :

Josef (Julius Josef as of 1934) born on 24.01.1907 in Gunzenhausen

Else, born on 26.01.1909 in Gunzenhausen

The family purchased the inn at Nürnberger Strasse 4 in 1910 for 30.000 RM.

Simon Strauss became the treasurer of the Gunzenhausen chess club, founded 15.03.1906. The Strauss' inn was chosen as the club's meeting place.

Quelle: Personendokumentation der jüdischen Einwohner von Gunzenhausen von Werner Mühlhäußer, Stadtarchivar in Gunzenhausen.

 

The Strauß Inn around 1910, provided by James Strauss

Unfortunately the family's history took a tragic turn through the pogrom of 25. March 1934, which started in this house. Pogrom vom 25. März 1934

In March 2014 we received this Mail from James Strauss

Julius and Irene Strauss with a friend, provided by James Strauss

My family and I are very grateful to be in touch with you and your students. Thank you for the opportunity to share our family story. Sadly, I never learned to speak German so I must write to you in English. I have gathered a few pictures that I will include in a separate email and am providing below a short history concerning my father Julius, who became an American citizen around 1940.
I was born in New York City in 1947 and my sister Carole was born in 1942. Since my father died in 1956 at age 49, I was not able to discuss any part of his former life in Germany with him or learn about the terrible events of 1934.
After the July, 1934 shooting my father recuperated in Germany and then Italy before emigrating to New York City where his father's brother had a a successful commercial decorating and exposition business. Although trained as a butcher in the family business in Gunzenhausen, he became a very successful businessman and civic leader in his adopted home. He met my mother, Irene Bachrach from Dieburg,

Germany, in the German-Jewish clubs then popular in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan (sometimes called 'Frankfurt on the Hudson'). Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained during the 1934 pogrom in Gunzenhausen affected his health and he was frequently hospitalized.

Although he was called to the American Army in WWII, after a short term of service he was found unfit because of his injuries.

In 1948, my family moved to a home in Forest Hills, NY, a close new suburb of NYC. We lived a very good, prosperous life in the 1950's. My father died in 1956 from the cancer that was a result of the the lead bullets he sustained in the 1934 shooting. Doctors were never able to remove the bullets from his body.



Ina and James Strauss

I married my wife, Ina, in 1973 and still live in Forest Hills. I am a attorney employed for most of my legal career by the New York City government specializing in contracts, labor and environmental law. Our three children are all married with one grandson, Teddy, and another expected this May.

My sister, Carole has one daughter and three grandchildren. She and her daughter's family all now live in Florida.
Until recent years, I only knew the outlines of the tragedy that occurred to the Strauss and other Jewish families in Gunzenhausen. Through the internet and projects like yours, we have been able to learn much more about my proud family history and continue  the search for links to my German heritage.

There is Steven Strauss, son of Elsie, in the yellow shirt and James sister, Carole, is seated behind him. The young people are Carole's daughter and her sons. Provided by Ina Strauss

In March 2015 James Strauss visited Gunzenhausen.

Others on the trip included Jim's wife, Ina as well as Jim Bauer and his wife Jill.  He is also German Jewish and did most of the research on the Strauss family. He wrote about that visit.

Our trip to Germany was primarily to visit the various villages from which the Strauss family came.  This included Dieburg, where Jim's mother lived, as well as Aschaffenburg, where the Strauss family lived prior to 1900, when they emigrated to Gunzenhausen. 

Our visit to Gunzenhausen was a life-altering experience for the Strauss family.  They did not know a great deal about their family--as most German Jews after the war didn't really discuss the Holocaust and life before the Holocaust.  Initially, we learned a lot from the website and other information accessible on line. Our visit to Gunzenhausen brought all of that information to life.  But, more than that, it showed us how the experiences of the Holocaust are being taught to young Germans and also a recognition on the part of the older generation of the importance of not forgetting.

We stayed overnight in the former Strauss inn, now owned by the Arnold family.  Josef Arnold, the current innkeeper, spent a great deal of time with us and was most hospitable and welcoming. The first morning, we visited the former Jewish cemetery with Emmi and Jochen Loos.  While Simon Strauss' tombstone was destroyed during the Nazi time, we figured out where it was and saw some fuzzy photos of what it looked like.

Jochen Loos, James Strauss and Jim Bauer searching Simon's grave
Students as guides to the city, provided by Jim Bauer

We also visited the city hall and the museum, which includes a poster about your family and various other articles as well as a model of the former synagogue. There we met Ingeborg Hermann und the webmaster of the Jewish homepage Horst Schäfer.

The absolute highlight of the trip was in the afternoon when the students in the class walked us around the village and we stopped at various houses of former Jewish residents.  The students, standing in front of each house and holding photos of the former residents, described their lives and what happened to them.  We were then at Emmi's house for coffee and interesting conversation.  We also visited the memorial to the Jews who died in the Holocaust as well as other sites including the former synagogue, school and other houses of Jewish residents.

 

The next morning, we spent about 2 hours at the school.  This session included Jim Strauss and I giving short presentations about our family histories and then questions and answers from the students.  We then had lunch with the mayor Karl-Heinz Fitz and Werner Mühlhäußer, the archivist.  A reporter from the local paper was there and she wrote an extensive article about our visit.

All in all, the visit was the highlight of our trip - and something that not only gave us more insight into the Strauss family history but also the history of Gunzenhausen, the other Jewish families that lived there and, if it is possible, the entire Nazi era.

Visit at Stephani-Schule

Today there are living in the USA three grandchildren from Simon Strauß, four great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren. So fortunately the family has outlived the nazis and their efforts and is still growing.

James and Ina Strauss with all their children and grandchildren, provided by Ina Strauss

Some more photos provided by James Strauss.

Sofie Strauß and her children with their partners